Sunday, December 30, 2007


Shorter Digby:
Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

Paying protection in Iraq

Nice little country you've got here, General Petraeus. Be a shame if something were to happen to it . . .
Dahr Jamail says that a more peaceful Iraq has been achieved by paying what could basically be described as protection money to the former resistance fighters:
Late in 2007, the U.S. military began paying monthly wages of 300 dollars to former militants, calling them now "concerned local citizens."
This explains some of the odd terminology I have been reading in the Associated Press and AFP cutlines for recent photos from Iraq:

Here are "security volunteers" checking vehicles entering the primarily Sunni Azamiyah neighborhood of north Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Dec. 23.

This AFP photo describes "A Sunni Arab awakening member" as he patrols a market in Baghdad's al-Adhamiyah district, 08 December 2007.

And here is a "concerned local citizen" standing guard over a weapons trafficking suspect during a joint patrol with U.S. and Iraqi troops in Hawr Rajab, a predominantly Sunni area of southern Baghdad, Iraq in this Oct. 9, 2007 file photo.
But it isn't going to be a permanent situation, oh no. The idea is that these "volunteers" are going to be disbanded just as soon as the security situation in Iraq allows it. Jamal continues:
While this policy has cut violence in al-Anbar, it has also increased political divisions between the dominant Shia political party and the Sunnis – the majority of these "concerned citizens" being paid are Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Maliki has said these "concerned local citizens" will never be part of the government's security apparatus, which is predominantly composed of members of various Shia militias.
Its a civil war waiting to happen.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Synchronized Ironing

Is there anything that people won't turn into a sport? This is from the Extreme Ironing website, which a commenter on TRex linked to.

Nobody expected...

The hallmark of the Bush administration is its blundering approach to international affairs, an elephant swinging through a china shop and then wondering why things are getting broken.
And its catch phrase is "Nobody expected..." . Like 14-year-olds, the Bushies don't think they are subject to the normal rules of cause and effect, so the reasons for adverse events must be mysterious and unfathomable. In Bush World, nobody expected Bin Laden would attack the US and nobody expected planes to be used to fly into buildings and nobody expected that North Korea would develop nuclear weapons and nobody expected that Saddam didn't have any weapons and nobody expected Iraq to fight back and nobody expected Hezbollah to prevail in Lebannon and nobody expected Hamas to win the Palestinian elections -- even though some knowledgeable people did expect exactly these things, only the Bush administration was determined not to listen to them, its fingers stuck into its ears saying nah-nah-nah-nah.
And wait for it, within a few days we'll hear Condi say that "nobody expected" Bhutto to be assassinated....
As outlined in this Washington Post article, it was the US government who decided that Bhutto should return to Pakistan to be "elected" as their Prime Minister, so that Musharraf could stay on as President, so they could both run the country together and maintain its pro-US tilt -- even though Bhutto and Musharraf hated each other. But somehow, in some mystical and unknowable way, this odd couple was going to create stability in Pakistan, and it was all going to work out just fine because that's the way the Bush administration wanted it to work and it had all these diplomats and statesmen buzzing hither and thither around the world setting up meetings and working out deals and negotiating agreements.
So of course it can't be the Bush administration's fault that Bhutto got assassinated, oh no:
Xenia Dormandy, former National Security Council expert on South Asia now at Harvard University's Belfer Center, said U.S. meddling is not to blame for Bhutto's death. "It is very clear the United States encouraged" an agreement, she said, "but U.S. policy is in no way responsible for what happened. I don't think we could have played it differently."
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas dog blogging

Here's our labrador, Chillou -- I love how he lies with his paw tucked under. And I love how expressive his eyebrows can be.
It's hard to get a photo of him, because whenever I line up the camera, he leaps at it -- so I have to sneak in and catch him unawares, which makes for some pretty poor photos, usually.
This photo is a few months old -- he has lost some weight since. Labs are such chow hounds.

Great line of the day

TRex, formerly of Firedoglake, now has his own blog, and thank heavens I don't have go to FDL anymore to read him.
I suspect TRex will be visiting my place frequently in the Great Line category. Here's his brisk put-down of the know-nothing pundits who pontificate without bothering to do any research first*:
... But that’s our exalted pundit class. A bunch of know-nothing nitwits coasting toward retirement and spewing swill that’s the media equivalent of air-flavored cotton candy. Truly, people like Matthews and Joe Klein were built for a more politically agnostic time, when there weren’t people like us out here ready to turn on a dime and immediately give the lie to their fact-free pronouncements. The research isn’t that hard, but apparently, it’s more than these empty suits can be bothered to do.
Joe Klein recently announced his 2007 “Political Courage Awards”, which is kind of like Britney Spears announcing her 2007 Hygiene and Sobriety Awards.
*Yes, yes, I know EXACTLY what you are thinking, but at least my heart is pure and I'm not getting paid multiple thousands a month to write this blog and ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We just don't understand

So Prime Minister Harper thinks the only reason that seven out of ten Canadians are against continuing the Afghanistan deployment is that we just don't "understand" it.
What he just won't - or can't - do is just explain why we should stay.
Other than to please George Bush, I mean. Harper says:
"The government understands we took on an important international commitment for important reasons of international security that in the long run impact directly on our country"
Oh really? And how, exactly, will Canada's international security be threatened when the Taliban get back into power in Afghanistan -- which they will within the next few years? What difference do 2,500 Canadian troops make in a country the size of Texas, with 31 million people? But Harper continues by implying that anyone critical of the mission is just playing "politics" -- a real pot-kettle moment:
"We really have got to avoid - on this one - taking a decision for reasons of short-term politics. We must take a decision that is in the long-run interest of the country, its international reputation and the respect we should all show for the sacrifice our men and women have made to secure it."
Are there not better ways to respect 70 deaths than to leave troops in the line of fire?
I keep waiting for someone to publish a map -- you know, like the ones in every newspaper during every other war ever fought, that said our troops started fighting here and have won territory to there, or our troops are defending this territory here. Or a map that shows the public works projects which have been completed under our protection. Or, you know, a map or a statement that shows something? . . . anything?
The media advisories on the National Defense website talk about how the minister attended the Grey Cup. News you can use, that's for sure.
And I'm not even mentioning MacKay's water-carrying for Cheney's Iran warmongering -- pretty shaved ape and Dave give that fantasy the smackdown it deserves.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just two more sleeps

I still get excited about Christmas.
Welcome Christmas while we stand heart to heart and hand to hand. Christmas Day is in our grasp as long as we have hands to clasp.

For my readers -- who have become my friends -- I hope your Christmas is merry and bright.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Al Gore

So I see Time magazine wimped out.
Quite obviously, the person of the year for 2007 was Al Gore.
Has any other person in history won an Oscar and a Nobel Prize and organized a world-wide rock concert, all in the same year? Has anyone else ever galvanized the world into action the way Al Gore has done? Bono writes:
He has an almost embarrassing faith in the power of facts to persuade both believer and skeptic. His enduring and overarching trait is, as it turns out, the pursuit of truth ... scientific truth, spiritual truth. That — and grace. Right now, he is an America the world needs to meet.
But I guess Time just couldn't do that to the Republicans and the oil companies and the car manufacturers who buy ads. They all would have been simply furious.
Not to mention how embarrassing it is for Americans every time they realize they could have had Al Gore as president and instead they got Mr. 24 Per Cent.
And how embarrassing for the media, who covered the 2000 election as though it didn't matter who won -- tell that now to the 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001 because the Bush administration couldn't be bothered to take terrorism seriously, or to the half million people who have died since in Bush's wars.
But picking Al Gore would have brought all this into the discussion and so, in the cowardly tradition of today's American media, Time picked Vladimir Putin instead.


One of the things I love about shopping for Christmas gifts is that I see things I would never have stumbled over otherwise.
Like this great mug I saw today. It said "I want to be just like you....only thinner and more successful".
Now, I can't think of anyone I could actually give this too -- most of the people I know already are thinner than me, and more successful too -- but I thought it was funny, all the same.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Great line of the day

Digby describes the increasing religiosity of the American presidential campaign and observes:
...I don't think it's too much to ask that if these candidates are all going to run as the second coming that they be able to heal the sick with a universal health care plan...
But that would cost money!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mecca becomes the shining city on the hill?

One of the tragedies of George Bush's America is that, for much of the world, America is no longer the shining city on the hill. Along with increasing hostility toward America comes increasing skepticism that democracy is the alternative to dictatorship. Onlookers around the world could well come to believe that "democracy" is just a tricky way of stealing people's oil and then killing them -- after all, America brought "democracy" to Iraq and more than half a million Iraqis died.
But people living under a dictator's heel must have hope. And if American democracy now appears hostile and fake, then they will look elsewhere -- perhaps toward an ideology like Islamic fundamentalism.
Meteor Blades writes a very interesting piece about Libya and Muammar Gaddafi in which he notes a significant trend within the underground opposition to Gaddafi's dictatorship:
There is a growing religiosity . . . Women who had begun in the 1980s to give up the head coverings decreed by Libyan tradition now wear hijab everywhere, even on the university campus. And jimar, the veil, which was never a part of Libyan dress, is becoming ever more common. Women meet in homes to study the Koran, and the opposition is said to be more Islamist in its focus than in the past. For many, this move toward fundamentalism reflects similar moves in other dictatorships, a kind of under-the-surface opposition to the regime with dangerous potentialities.
Musa Kusa [Libyian foreign intelligence chief] once boasted that he knew every man with a beard in Libya, hinting that he knew whom to arrest if any opposition to the regime appeared. No more. Beards, a symbol of quiet resistance, can be seen everywhere.

And a merry xmas was had by all

Now here's a family who will have a really great Christmas this year, I'm sure -- particularly when their son tells his mean, judgmental, egotistical father where to stuff his $9,000 and moves in with his "delinquent" friends.

Telling Canada where to go

Harry Hutton and his commenters are shocked! SHOCKED! at how mean Canada is being toward poor persecuted Mark Steyn.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What did I miss?

Turned into the week from hell at work -- sorry for the lack of posts.
One of these days, I'm going to retire and then western civilization will crumble, I'm sure.
So what could I have blogged about this week but didn't?
Well, of course, Teh Mulroney -- his fabled Irish charm is just so last century now, isn't it? Of course, money laundering and bribery and income tax evasion aren't particularly attractive traits.
Then there is the Great Isotope Shortage -- its interesing, isn't it, that the so-called Liberal hack is still employed while the actual Conservative hack is gone already.
And more election horserace coverage from the United States -- all this inside baseball stuff about their primaries is endlessly fascinating to Americans and just endless to the rest of us.
And speaking of baseball, the Mitchell report strikes me as just a little overblown -- and I get the impression that many sportswriters, who know BS when they hear it, are angry that the testimony of a batboy would be treated like gospel. Just goes to show that there are Curveball-types everywhere.


After ducking and bobbing and weaving and kowtowing to George Bush and trying to sabotage the whole conference, Canada grudgingly accepts Bali deal. Then our very own Fearless Freep, John Baird, demonstrated a firm grasp of up-is-downism when he said:
“There is a certain price of leadership, and I don't apologize for that.”
I guess the kind of leadership he is talking about is the lead-from-behind kind.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I try to avoid being a cranky old fart who goes around muttering about the good old days, but does everyone else hate Firedoglake's new format as much as I do?
The main page is chock-full of blue "read more" boxes and half the time I can hardly find the bylines of the authors I like and the beautiful photos that used to appear on the main page and draw you into the articles have mostly disappeared and please, please save me from any more website "communities" that I have to "join" and...
Oh, time for a coffee, I guess ...

Shop 'til you drop

Whew! Its not easy, singlehandedly keeping the Canadian economy going. But I keep trying...
Time to relax with three of my favorite Christmas videos -- enjoy!
First, the funniest version of We Three Kings ever done:

Next, the bells do Carol of the Bells

Finally, the oddest couple who ever sang together, from the oddest Christmas Special ever made:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Great line of the day

Digby on presidential candidate "character" issues -- first, she recalls Bush saying the CIA shouldn't give an accused terrorist any pain medication for a broken leg, then she continues:
...there is ample evidence that the Republican candidates for president this time, in different ways, have all shown a similar penchant for a nasty, simple-minded meanness or outright sadism. But the press is ignoring that once again in favor of predigested GOP spin which explores in detail such character revelations as Clinton's "brittleness" and Obama's "aloofness" and Edwards' "inauthenticity." Never mind the people who say they want to start deporting massive numbers of people because they are all diseased criminals or those who want to "double Gitmo." As far as the press is concerned, their biggest problem is figuring out which ones are the most Christian.
Emphasis mine.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The operative word is "control"

Chet at Vanity Press highlights this story about a deaf man who was tased by police because he couldn't hear their commands.
I noted one aspect of this story that I thought very significant -- the police explained their taser use by saying "The first few minutes getting control of the scene are very, very important."
And that's the key word - " control".
If you look at the recent stories about use and abuse of Tasers, it seems to me that they are not being used anymore just for safety or protection, or to deal with hysterical psychotics, or because police felt endangered. Nope, now they're just being used to control a scene -- the doctrine seems to be, if someone doesn't respond immediately to being yelled at, then tase 'em! That'll teach 'em!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Great line of the day

Joe Biden:
“Are you telling me a president who is briefed every single morning, who is fixated on Iran, is not told back in August that the tentative conclusion of 16 intelligence agencies in the United States government said they had abandoned their effort for a nuclear weapon in ’03?” Biden said in a conference call with reporters.
“That’s not believable,” Biden added. “I refuse to believe that. If that’s true, he has the most incompetent staff in … modern American history and he’s one of the most incompetent presidents in modern American history.
Emphasis mine. Of course, its not necessarily an "either-or" situation -- could be that Bush WAS told AND that he is incompetent.
I liked this line of Biden's too:
Bush told reporters earlier Tuesday that he was made aware only last week of a National Intelligence Estimate that described the stop to the Iranian nuclear program.
“I love presidents who parse words,” Biden said in response. “The NIE didn’t get written until a week ago.”
The 'Shorter' version would be: Depends what the meaning of "lie" is.


So now the US intelligence agencies think Iran shut down a nuclear weapons program four years ago. Well, sounds like that's that, doesn't it? Problem solved...
Not so fast -- here's the National Security Advisor's reaction:
Mr. Hadley said the latest intelligence estimate was ' positive news' and called for even tougher sanctions on Tehran. 'The international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran — with diplomatic isolation, United Nations sanctions, and with other financial pressure — and Iran has to decide it wants to negotiate a solution,' he said.
Why, exactly, would "even tougher sanctions" be warranted? What on-going problem are they supposed to be negotiating" a solution" to?

Monday, December 03, 2007

NFB animation for free

I guess this happened a year ago, but I just found out about it -- the National Film Board has 70 of its best animated short films posted on line -- so go enjoy Blackfly, The Big Snit, The Cat Came Back, The Sweater, Wind, etc. etc.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Do you recognize this?

Winter is here with a vengeance I guess.
I was just talking to my daughter who is spending her first winter in Toronto and they woke up to about 3 feet of snow, and some fellows on her block were complaining this afternoon that the city hadn't plowed their street yet.
Yes, you read that correctly -- within 12 hours of the snowfall, the expectation was that their residential street would be plowed.
And it was, later this afternoon.
Boy, things are sure different "down east", aren't they?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Great line of the day

Dave at The Galloping Beaver writes about the Ontario Deputy Coroner who is going around to conferences on Taser's dime to promote Tasers and the "excited delirium" myth:
Dr. Cairns might also want to tell his next TASER International hosted conference how many people who supposedly suffered from "Excited Delirium" actually survived.
Or is it only a condition found in dead people?
Emphasis mine.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Surgical" strikes

It has happened again -- NATO has mistakenly killed another 14 civilians in Afghanistan:
The victims of the episode on Monday night were all Afghans who were working for $5 a day, Mr. Jalali said. His company has been contracted to build 273 miles of road in 10 Afghan provinces, and the major contracts are with the American military.
Mr. Jalali said he thought the accident happened because the foreign military either lacked information or had incorrect information.
I keep reading all this stuff about "surgical strikes", promoting the idea that technology makes it possible to target only "the enemy" and not the good guys -- but then we see hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians getting killed.
Do any doctors actually perform surgery with wild, broad, and bloody swipes of the scalpel?
Reminds me of the Doc in Logan's Run:

Henry Luce is rolling in his grave

Time magazine has flubbed it.
I remember how shocked I was when I found out that the United States government couldn't recognize communist China until Time magazine publisher Henry Luce died.
That's how powerful Time magazine once was.
Now, they can't even get a smear campaign started properly.
The idea, I think, was to tarnish the FISA legislation now being considered by the US Congress -- so that the telcom companies can avoid legal responsibility for tapping thousands of phone calls without warrants -- by promoting the libel that the legislation would "protect terrorists".
But a couple of bloggers, Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Singel, have spotlighted this blatant, stupid lie and forced Time to disavow it, as well as hammering any other media outlet that picks it up -- the Chicago Tribune has also had to run a correction.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Politically Correct"

Chet writes about the post-modern and Politically Correct "movement" which actually wasn't much of anything, really -- just played one on TV, so to speak.
...the reality of the whole "PC" thing depends on where you were and when... There really were no common experiences of this stuff as far as I can tell, just scattered individual ones. What seems fairly certain to me, at any rate, is that while pomo and PC were not in and of themselves imaginary, the idea that there were actual movements based on these things was imaginary, and was used as a fear tactic by right-wing politicians and journalists for a surprising length of time.
That was my own experience, too -- of course, I went to university in the Stone Age, so this discussion brings to mind that old pre-modernist Shakespeare, who described "a custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance" -- that seems to describe "Politically Correct" rather well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rider Nation

The boys won it! And its been a long time coming:
"We have a saying in Saskatchewan," said Roughriders offensive lineman Gene Makowsky. "Tough times don't last. Tough people do."

Kerry Joseph gives his mother the game ball.

Johnson stepped up --his three key interceptions won the game.

And Fantuz was fantastic.
We heard it was being called the Banjo Bowl, but I don't mind -- some banjo! some bowl!

Saskboy has The Night Before Grey Cup.

The new Star Chamber

At Harper's magazine, Scott Horton writes about how Bush is resurrecting the Star Chamber and he uses the Omar Khadr case as one of his examples.
The Star Chamber was a secret security court used by the Tudors and Stuarts, and its abuses were one of the main reasons why the Purtians created the United States 300 years ago. How quickly they forget!
The Bush Administration is slowly introducing the Court of Star Chamber to the process of American justice. We see its elements everywhere. In the farcical Combat Status Review Tribunals created in Guantánamo, now repeatedly denounced even by judges serving on them as a travesty. In the Military Commissions, crafted in conscious avoidance of the standards both of American military and civilian justice. And in the steady press to lower the standards of our federal courts to introduce practices that continually tip the scales of justice in favor of prosecutors. Reports have begun to circulate that the Administration has put together a group of scholars headed by a right-wing activist judge to craft legislation to introduce a new court of Star Chamber, perhaps to be floated in the coming year. . . . in the Bush view of justice, a failure to convict is unacceptable. And which is why the Bush view of justice is no justice at all.
Horton cites the Khadr case as an example of Star Chamber thinking:
Five news organizations, The AP, The New York Times Co., Dow Jones & Company Inc., The Hearst Corp. and The McClatchy Company have filed a complaint stating that they are being denied access to critical information that would allow them to report on the Guantánamo Military Commissions proceeding against Canadian Omar Khadr.
Various arguments in the case of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are apparently made via e-mail — a communications channel to which the public has no access — and issues apparently are being raised in closed sessions for which no transcripts or summaries are available, the news organizations, including The Associated Press, wrote in a filing. In addition, the filing stated, the public is not permitted access to motions and other documents submitted by the parties and “even the existence of a motion is not currently disclosed in any publicly accessible way.”
Khadr is now 21 years of age and has been in prison for five years, since he was 16. He is accused of having committed crimes as a minor. Radkhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, has registered strong complaints about the treatment of Khadr, as have other nations and human rights groups. “She raised her concerns about the creation of an international precedent where an individual is being tried for war crimes with regard to alleged acts committed when he was a child,” said a UN spokesman. There is a view in the international law community that the act of trying a minor as a war criminal is itself a war crime. Not that this would, of course, give the Bush Administration the slightest pause.
Specific charges against Khadr include having lobbed a grenade that killed an American medic in Afghanistan. The US strategy of closely guarding the proceedings and restricting media access to arguments and materials submitted is, however, highly selective. The Department of Defense leaked to CBS News’s “Sixty Minutes” program what prosecutors have long viewed as their “bombshell” evidence: film which they assert shows Khadr involved in insurgent activities in Afghanistan. The Government strategy is that the Government will exercise tight control over what the public learns about the trial and what transpires there. That, of course, was the very abuse against which “Freeborn” John Lilburne railed in his assault on the injustice of the Stuart courts, and the right to an open court is often cited in legal history books as having been established by him, in the middle of the seventeenth century. Which is why the Bush Administration is so much more at home with sixteenth century concept of judicial conduct. But the major issue that critics raise here is not Khadr’s guilt or innocence, but the procedural fairness and transparency of the process by which he is being tried.
As things stand now, whatever results from the trial of Omar Khadr, no serious observers are going to consider them to be fair. So what purpose is served by them? The answer to that question is fairly obvious: domestic political propaganda. This is a political trial, not an exercise in justice.
And successive Canadian governments have gone along with this travesty -- they have not fought for Khadr's rights any more than they originally fought for Mahar Arar.
Now Khadr, along with his family, have to be one of the least sympathetic defendants that Canadians have ever been asked to hold their noses and support.
But that, of course, is not the point
Its not about them, its about us -- are we the kind of people who will tolerate secret trials and endless imprisonment, or not?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Harper wins

And we lose.

Pictures that make you go Ahhh!

Knut, the polar bear cub from the Berlin Zoo

Why can't the left-wing be more like the right?

Bill from Portland Maine notes that Washington Post pundit David Broder thinks the left-wing should try to be more like the right -- I guess Broder thinks Imaginary Moderates find duplicity appealing, I don't know why.
So anyway, Bill helpfully provides this handy checklist:
>> Discriminate against minorities a little more
>> Be a little more skeptical about global warming, and give "global cooling" advocates a seat at the table
>> Think a little less about the poor
>> Slow down on trying to provide guaranteed health care for all Americans. The ones who don’t have insurance are probably fat, drunk, chain-smoking lazy asses, anyway.
>> Don’t be so quick to badmouth abstinence-only education, even though studies show it's not effective. We just need to give it more time. And money.
>> Practice putting profits above people---those who don’t earn much money have been blessed by God with conveniently-located Wal-Mart stores, so everybody wins!
>> Repeat after me: Every time the government takes away one of my civil liberties, I become a little safer
>> Dial down your curiosity and start trusting your leaders to know what's best for you
>> Be patient with Iraq. Give the surge more time. Six, nine, twelve months tops. And stop saying how bad the Iraq war is for the troops. They're doing what they were trained to do: be the de facto police force for a bickering, do-nothing sovereign government that's not our own.
>> Ladies: a little more time in the kitchen, if you please
>> Complain a little louder about sexual immorality, but don't deny yourself the pleasure of the occasional steamy affair or public bathroom hookup
>> At least admit that the planet might be six thousand years old, and that Adam might have ridden a triceratops to get his Pabst Blue Ribbon at the local 7-11
>> Stop fretting about how Republicans gutted the government over the past seven years. Look forward, not backward. Remember the famous quote: "Those who forget the past are taking the perfect combination of fine pharmaceutical products."
>> Be a little more hateful of illegal immigrants, especially now that we've just discovered over the past year that they exist. Come help build the wall---you can even carve your initials in it!
>> Ask yourself: how come there's not a single liberal judge who knows how to properly interpret the United States Constitution?
>> Be more skeptical of candidates for government positions who have the necessary skills and background to do their jobs well. Nobody likes a showoff.
>> Buy more guns---nothing builds confidence like the feel of a Glock tucked in your shorts
>> Be a little more "me me me" and a little less "we we we"
Well, I know I'm impressed.
Seriously, though, its sad, isn't it. Being a conservative used to be sorta honourable -- I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said if someone isn't a socialist at 20 they have no heart, and if they're not a conservative by 30 they have no head. I may not have ever been conservative myself but at least I could understand why someone would be and we could agree to disagree. But now the Conservative "brand" is sanctimonious, blustering, racist, sexist, homophobic, immoral, greedy, ignorant, and cheap -- Rush Limbaugh is their poster boy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kyoto Lite?

Delay, deny, obfuscate, mis-direct -- our Conservative government has the Bush administration formula down pat.
Now Canada is preventing a Commonwealth agreement on climate change purportedly because some of the world's big polluters are not involved.
"We would not support a binding target only for some emitters - especially if that excludes major emitters," Harper spokeswoman Sandra Buckler said in an e-mail.
Yeah. So what was it that Kyoto was attempting to do?
Of course, the right-wing climate-change-denial countries manufactured reasons not to join that one, either -- Kyoto, after all, was not perfect, and only an absolutely perfect plan would be good enough for them.
And of course the rest of us couldn't possibly do anything on our own to save the planet ... might cost us some money! Can't have that.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Great line of the day

About the Scott McClellan ain't-nobody-here-but-us-chickens denial, Josh Marshall writes:
It would seem that, despite leaving the White House, Scott McClellan's testicles remain in protective custody.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great line of the day

TRex writes about the Imaginary Moderates:
You know, all those salt-of-the-earth ordinary Americans who believe that George W. Bush should decide when we get out of Iraq, and that the government is way too tough on big business. These reasonable pragmatists understand that war is not something to be exited lightly, that huge corporate profits benefit everyone, er… somehow, and that regulating pollutants and toy safety and food additives just inhibits the course of human evolution. If we simply let natural selection do its thing, then eventually we’ll be immune to everything, just like cockroaches and Karl Rove, and who wouldn’t want that?


I saw this Reuters photo on the Iraq Today website -- a mother grieving over her child, who was one of the three children killed in Baqubah on Sunday by a roadside bomb.
UPDATE: Anne Applebaum writes an appallingly callous column in the Washington Post about how the tragedy of Iraq is that the US has lost so much international credibility they won't be able to make a new war on Iran.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Looking into the briefcase

Summarizing The Brian Mulroney defense:
Mila and the kids are to blame, really. I would never have grabbed Schreiber's $100,000 cash if they hadn't expected to live in the lap of luxury after struggling along for so many years on the mere $10,000+ a month paid to a prime minister in 1993.
and there's more:
The money? Why, it was a retainer, yeah, that's it, a retainer. For consulting, yeah, that's it, for consulting.
and finally, you'll love this one:
Why didn't I tell anybody before? Well, gosh darn it, nobody asked.
I think his spokesman should just shut up.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The stupid, it burns

Tom Friedman writes the stupidest NYTimes column ever - which is, I know, saying a lot -- and Glenn Greenwald calls him on it:
The drooling, bloodthirsty desire for war and vengeance which Friedman spewed forth in the months after 9/11 has been suppressed some as a result of the disaster in Iraq, but it is still lurking in him and the rest of our pundit class with all the vibrancy it had in 2002. And now that they are starting to convince themselves that they were Right After All about Iraq, they're starting to unveil it again, in completely unchanged form. They have learned absolutely nothing. They cannot, because they are convinced that they are the Guardians of Great Wisdom and cannot err. Even in Iraq, they did not err.
Almost five years after helping to unleash the greatest disaster in our country's history, Tom Friedman is still openly indulging his adolescent, weakness-based fantasies about ass-kicking and chest-beating Dr. Strangelove threats and the virtues of acting like a mafia thug such as Tony Soprano, "quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm." Friedman sits around watching TV shows and -- for reasons far more psychological than political -- identifies with amoral Tough Guy thugs and gets all excited by the vicarious sensations of strength and power and then disguises all of that as "foreign policy analysis."
This is exactly why the rest of the world no longer respects the United States -- call it whatever you like, we know thuggery when we see it.

Just for fun

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Defining "progress" down

The New York Times describes how things are improving in Iraq since al-Sadr halted his attacks:
Since Mr. Sadr gave his order in mid-September, the numbers of unidentified bodies found on the streets of Baghdad daily have rarely exceeded a half dozen. When his militia was more active, there were often 30 or more unidentified bodies found daily.
When you do the math, it works out to about 360 unidentified murders in the last two months. Great news, eh?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Great line of the day

I found one of the most chilling parts of the Afghanistan prison story today to be the matter-of-fact, bureaucratic tone in the Corrections Canada memo:
On a Health and Safety level we will be walking through blood and fecal matter when either on patrol or in the prison and should not be wearing our personal footwear as it will track into our personal quarters.
In a comment to Pogge's post, Skdadl pinpoints why this was so disturbing:
I think we call this the banality of evil. I have to walk through blood and fecal material, so I need better boots. This is the road to Nuremberg, folks. And this is being done in our name.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Young, old, western, eastern, English-speaking, French-speaking, northerner, southerner, right-wing, left-wing -- we are all united in sorrow and shame about the tragic death of Robert Dziekanski.

Great line of the day

Dave at Galloping Beaver has a post up about the Amnesty International report on Afghan prisoners:
... DND and the Canadian Forces have an obligation, no matter where our forces are deployed, to observe Canadian law. We don't get to ignore the mistreatment of prisoners taken by our forces, even if that mistreatment is happening at the hands of others after being turned over.
The responsibility for the detention of prisoners falls to the Aghanistan authorities because we have agreed to that obviously flawed arrangement. As a belligerent involved in a war, we have every right to retain prisoners in Canadian custody.
It's about time prisoners taken by Canadian Forces were placed in Canadian custody until the objectives of the Canadian mission have been fully satisfied. And if the argument is that it is too costly to do so, we shouldn't be involved at all.
Emphasis mine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So what's stopping you, Brian?

So Brian Mulroney is trumpeting the old "I just want to clear my name" schtick. Globe columnist Lawrence Martin's on-line chat about the Mulroney public inquiry pinpoints the flaws. First:
If Mr. Mulroney is so innocent, as he claims, why hasn't he come forward and explained himself on the question of the $300,000? Why can't he say how he made a bad error of judgment in accepting cash, in dealing with this man, and that he is sorry for it, but he did nothing illegal. Remaining silent leads to suspicion.
and second:
... It's not just a case of accepting Mr. Schreiber's words. They should be greeted with utmost suspicion. But... stories revealing Mr. Mulroney's failure to pay taxes on time on the $300,000 handout cannot be ignored.
Paul Wells reminds us that Mulroney had another option too:
A judicial inquiry is the "only way" to establish his innocence? Gee, I would have thought a 1,000-page book might have been a good place to try.
And Scott thinks the public is growing suspicious of Harper now too:
. . . the mere fact Mulroney’s name is some how connected to Harper, however tenuous that might or might not be, and the fact that Harper had 3 flip-flops in the past week on what type of inquiry to hold - from a cocky dismissal of it with a vague warning about investigating past Liberal regimes last week, to an independent person to see whether we need an inquiry, to now a full blown inquiry - gives the impression to the public something fishy has been going on.
It has led at least 2 pollsters to either conclude that it’s causing Con poll numbers to drop, or that it has potential to do so.
Finally, in the "if we knew then what we know now" department, Wells also observes:
if the Liberals had voted down the throne speech, Stephen Harper would be fleeing scrums today on the campaign trail, ordering candidates not to talk...

Denial is a river in Egypt

Kos asks why do conservatives deny global warming? Yes, I have wondered about this myself:
Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way, yet as long as the movementarians think that attacking the science will score a vctory against liberalism they will go on attacking just the same. All the petro lobby needed to do was polarize a scientific matter along political lines and the rightwing movement willingly became what amounts to the private army for a cause almost completely tangential to their individual interests. Retired tobacco execs look on with a mix of humor and deep jealousy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Profound ignorance

If anyone ever wonders why the image of the United States is declining across the world, along with its economy, just ponder the profound ignorance and parochial egotism of this quote from LA Times columnist Jonah Goldberg:
Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.
What gave him the idea that the United States has the right to act that way?

It's Win-Win

Vancouver dermatologist Neil Kitson has a suggestion for Afghanistan -- send in the Canadian Wheat Board, armed:
So Afghan [poppy] farmers . . . have a cash crop, but they're dependent on distributors and middlemen who make a fortune and might not pay a decent price. The whole thing needs to be taken out of the hands of these cartels, warlords, drug barons, and what have you, then nationalized and professionalized. That's where the Wheat Board comes in . .
Works for me. Now that the Saskatchewan's Gnu Gov is no longer willing to finance the legal battle against barley marketing privatization, the Board needs a new source of funds, too. So it's win-win for both the Board and the Afghan poppy farmers.

Its still fish and it still stinks

As Rosanne Rosannadanna said:
It's still fish and it still stinks.
Digby describes an interview today where a torture apologist AKA military lawyer did the old bob and weave and parse.
Try as he might, he can't change the reality that a civilized nation does not permit the torture of its prisoners. No matter what they might have done.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Great photo of the day

which I found in this good hockey post at First Draft which also has a great photo of a goalie doing a backflip to prevent a goal, though I liked the cat picture better myself.

Remembrance Day

In honour of Remembrance Day, here are a couple of great scenes from The Longest Day:

The fellow cursing the pigeons with "Damned traitors!" was Canadian journalist Charles Lynch, according to Cornelius Ryan's book. But I think Lynch was actually with the Canadians at Juno, rather than with the English at Sword.

And if you have ever wondered about why we have two minutes of silence, listen to Nova Scotia songwriter Terry Kelly:

The Movie Rule

Via Pandagon, I found The Rule for deciding whether a movie is worth watching or not:
1. There must be two or more women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a man
Works for me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

What Digby says

Digby talks about unions and why they are important:
A couple of years ago you may all remember that the Southern California grocery workers went on strike ... Yesterday, I was at one of those stores and overheard a very heartening conversation between a couple of customers and a couple of grocery workers. The customers were members of the striking WGA and they were talking with the grocery guys about the strike. They were very animated, talking tactics and telling of their experiences as Union Men. It brought home to me again why unions are important.
You hear a lot of nasty snark in this town about how these WGA strikers are all millionaires playing at being hardhats, and it totally misses the point. The union movement is about solidarity, which is a fundamental progressive value. I have no idea if those fellows in the store were highly paid TV writers or hopeful freelance screenwriters or what, but it wasn't relevant to the conversation. Those four guys had interests in common in their relationship to the owners of their industries. Unions are one of the vehicles that can make our capitalist society work to the benefit of all and not just the few.
In my own working years, I've been on both sides, in unions and in management. And both sides are better off when there is a union to bargain collectively.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Premier Archie

The Saskatchewan Party will be Saskatchewan's new government.
And Brad Wall will be Saskatchewan's new premier. Wall seems like a nice guy, I know, but I have to admit that he reminds me of Archie.
I don't understand this new craze for fixed election dates. Wall has already announced that the next election will be Nov. 7, 2011 -- and so I also don't understand why he thinks he should bother passing a law about it, he's the government so he can set the date whenever he wants to.
But turning immediately to those more serious issues which couldn't be discussed during the campaign, the press is wondering whether Premier Wall will continue fighting for the federal equalization formula that the Harper Conservatives are refusing Saskatchewan.
I think Wall is already preparing the ground for tossing in the towel, if my mixed metaphors make sense -- already, Wall is framing the argument that a few dollars more in annual federal transfer payments will somehow make up for the billion dollars that Saskatchewan will lose over the next several years if the equalization formula continues to include resource revenues:
Wall said the Saskatchewan Party still wants the same equalization deal as other provinces when it comes to resources. . . . He said there are other tactics to pursue, including pushing for increased federal funding in areas such as infrastructure, post-secondary education and First Nations . . ."There are really some opportunities to build a more constructive relationship."
Calvert, beginning his transformation into leader of the Opposition, told reporters he was concerned about Wall's comments.
"Political allegiances should not lead to a sell-out of Saskatchewan's interests, or people," said Calvert, who said legal opinions prepared by the Justice Department on the equalization challenge will stand up to any scrutiny . . .
The top-ranking of Saskatchewan's 12 Tory MPs, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, said he was looking forward to working with the new provincial government and had some favourable words for Wall's approach.
"My grandmother, who was a very wise lady, always said you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, so I'll leave it at that," he said in a phone interview.
MY grandmother used to say, if you've got the money, honey, I've got the time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It is to laugh

After my day down in the dumps yesterday, today's news is something to laugh at.
First we find out that the FBI in San Francisco thought they could find terrorists by tracking Falafel sales.
Then we find out that the Swiftboat authors are suing their publisher. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch, could it? As Jane Hamsher says, this is simply awash with irony.
Kevin Drum has finished his Golden Wingnut Award contest and Hinderaker won!
And what IS it with Liberal politicians and golf? Remember this? And this? Well, the Gazetteer has the newest scoop.
And then I found this, too:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Great line of the day

Digby just quoted another Chris Matthews' Teh Stupid, and then in the Comments, Michael Scott says:
Tweety, Pumpkinhead, et al. make Ted Baxter look like Edward R. Murrow.

Outrage fatigue

I've reached some sort of nadir of outrage today
First, it looks as though the Saskatchewan [ie Conservative] Party will win big in the provincial election on Wednesday, which will be ballyhooed as a victory for the right wing and which actually will be nothing of the kind. Saskatchewan isn't turning to the right, but too many of us are just tired of a government that can't seem to come up with any exciting or even mildly interesting ideas anymore. The NDP delivered a flyer to our house today showing the disembodied head of Brad Wall floating over the prairie next to the disembodied head of Grant Devine, the Great Pumpkin meets the Wizard of Oz.
Then I read Dave's You are now entering the Reform Agenda, about why we should be outraged at Harper's decision that he can't be bothered going to bat for Canadians he doesn't like:
...the moral relativism now being employed by Harper and Day ... not only violates the rule of Canadian law, but makes Canadians expendable if the circumstances do not fit with the Harper/Day agenda - an agenda which, under a Conservative Party banner, they have been trying to camouflage.
So we'll all be waving bye-bye to Mark Emery, Michelle Rainey, Greg Williams,Omar Khadr, and anybody else of whom our new moral overlords disapprove.
Then I read Glenn Greenwald summing up the most recent Bush Administration outrages:
. . . we're at the point where a belief in due process, press freedoms and basic restraints on government and military power demonstrate a hatred for America and its freedoms. A belief in those principles constitutes "siding with the enemy." Only by joyously affirming the power of the Government to detain people for life with no charges, to break laws enacted by Congress, to spy on Americans with no warrants, to torture detainees, and to arrest war journalists and hold them for years can one prove one's loyalty to the country.
And finally I read a terrible story at Sadly, No! about how a bunch of Free Republic posters stalked a dying voting rights activist -- and turns out this was only one of several stalking incidents of this type.
All I can ask is this: what kind of people are they?
Or perhaps Winston Churchill's question is a better one:
What kind of people do they think we are?
Because Churchill continued:
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to preserve against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Great line of the day

TBogg writes about Blackwater:
. . . it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to foresee a future when Blackwater becomes the go-to company for a government that requires plausible deniability (nudge nudge...say no more) . . . imagine if you will, a Third World country with an "insurgent problem" that can be sufficiently labeled as Communist or this Millennium's flavor of the day: Islamofascist. For a price, Blackwater will be there to train your secret police in counter-intelligence operations, provide logistical support, weaponry, manpower, and yes, that special something that falls short of the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function.
Or not.
Blackwater is going to be the Wal-Mart of Death.
Emphasis mine.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Great post of the day

Others here and there have said this too, but not so succinctly as Matthew Yglesias:
As long as we're all worried about Hillary Clinton and the 'gender card' we do realize that about 75 percent of the 2004 race between John "I've killed people" Kerry and George "no you're a windsurfing frenchman" Bush was a series of efforts to play the gender card, right?
It's actually stunning how much of the erstwhile foreign policy debate is primarily an argument about the size of the debaters' dicks.


Shorter Conservative house leader Peter Van Loan:
"By forcing Mulroney to pay the income tax he owed on the Schreiber payments, it is Canadian taxpayers who have suffered for the Liberal vendetta against Mulroney!"
Shorter Harper:
"If you force us to hold an inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber payments, then we will also have to question something or other that Liberals did that otherwise, of course, we would shut up about!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Sorry for the lack of blogging -- as well as a cold, I now also have cellulitis in my leg so the doctor tells me I will have to spend several days resting, lying down.
As Nelson says, smell you later!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Great line of the day

From John Cole:
Jules Crittenden, journamamamalist and serious person, attempts to cut Glenn Greenwald down to size . . . by attacking Glenn’s website art. And sadly, I am serious.
If the right-wing meltdown continues any faster, I predict that by the end of the week, prominent right-wing bloggers will be standing in public, unshowered, singing re-written verses of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” with silly insults (Glenn has the cooties, Glenn has the cooties) wearing only Hello Kitty diapers, an American Flag, and an Islamofascism Awareness Week sticker all the while balancing orange traffic cones on their heads.
Emphasis mine.


I have an awful cold so I haven't had the energy for much blogging. Here are the photos from yesterday's Iraq war protests in a large number of US cities.
And if you are cynical about anti-war protests, well, join the club -- even the march organizers aren't pretending that a protest will stop the war. But NOT protesting will certainly not end the war either. At Alternet, march organizer Leslie Cagan says this:
...she understands the frustrations that have come from people who've been marching and opposing this war for years with little positive response from our government. "Some people are fed up with protests but are even more fed up with the war," said Cagan. "We have few vehicles to express our opposition, and we need to use every one we have. We'll never know the lives we may have saved or the destruction we may have prevented that resulted from our previous anti-war protests. But I do know that the minute we stop, things will get worse."

Los Angeles:

The Los Angeles march was led by Vietnam War activist Ron Kovic.

San Fransisco:



New York:

And in Seoul:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Great line of the day

From an email received by CNN's Jack Cafferty:
"Remember the 60's?" wrote one Baby Boomer. "Well, they're back. Only this time it's not a decade. It's the age on our driver's licenses."


I had not heard of a case like this before:
A Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a Calgary woman to stop posting hate messages against minority groups on a U.S.-based white supremacist website. The commission fined Jessica Beaumont $1,500 for posting messages that hold Jews, gays, lesbians, Chinese, blacks, aboriginals and other non-whites up for hatred or contempt.
Oh, can't you just hear the radio shows on Monday as they chatter about this?
While I can also sympathize with the argument that hate speech laws could be used to silence dissent, thus far they have been used to society's betterment, I think -- and anything that might cause a bigot to think twice before posting rants about Jews "driving White Canadians into extinction", even in the privacy of their own home, can't be all bad.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Election update

I'm starting to think that the question of this election is not going to be how many seats will the NDP lose, but rather, how many seats will they keep?
So far Brad Wall is doing an excellent job of keeping the more shall-we-say 'controversial" Sask Party ideologues out of the public eye -- you know, the ones who don't think crown corporations should be profitable, who reportedly once called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms "garbage" , who think TILMA is just a great idea, who don't support the PA pulp mill deal, etc.
The Sask Party platform is full of pointless micromanagement -- they're going to "work with school boards" to "increase healthy food options in schools" -- as well as pointless union-busting -- they're going to set up a "Premier's Council on Health Care Workplace Issues" which is supposed to discuss issues like the ratio of full-time to part-time staff and other "work-related issues that affect health care providers." Oh, and they're going to "work with the federal government" to "secure a Saskatchewan Energy Accord modeled on the Atlantic Accord, or its financial equivalent" -- yeah, that'll happen.
Meanwhile, here's the NDP presiding over the best Saskatchewan economy in the last quarter century, and they brought us Al Gore and the Rolling Stones and the Junos and the Geminis -- and they don't get no respect. The Sask Party frames the NDP as tired and old, and the NDP platform comes across that way -- when a party has been in power 16 years, it can't really blame its predecessor anymore and it doesn't really have a good answer to the question of why they didn't do it already?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Great line of the day

From Chris Floyd, writing about increasing so-called 'collateral damage' in Iraq:
...For what the air campaign, and the "offensives into neighborhoods," are really saying is brutally frank:
"We invaded your country under knowingly false pretenses . . . We destroyed your infrastructure, we destroyed your society, we destroyed your history, we enthroned extremist militias to rule over you, we tortured your sons and fathers in the same hellhole that Saddam used, we killed a million of your people and drove millions more from their homes. And we intend to stay here for as long as we like, in the vast 'enduring bases' we are building on your land. Now if you don't accept this, if you keep shooting at us and trying to make us leave, then we will go on bombing your families in their homes, we will go on killing your women and children, until you stop."
Emphasis mine.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The vacant lot and boulevard vote

Hmmm -- the charges of campaign sign vandalism are already flying -- though what these photos actually demonstrate, I think, is that the Sask Party and the Liberals have cornered the vacant lot and boulevard vote.
My son (who is, by the way, the Green Party Candidate for Saskatoon Southeast!) says with Halloween coming in the middle of the campaign -- and teenagers being what they are -- anybody who doesn't take their lawn signs down on Halloween night is going to lose them.

And the prize goes to...

Jeff Potts (AKA Famouspipeliner) for the shortest political career ever -- from October 15 at 8:28 pm, to Oct 22 at 5:53 am.

Yes, John Manley DOES look like Beaker

Scott's reasonable and rational critique of the (rigged) Afghanistan study group has reminded me that I meant to post this -- a completely unreasonable and irrational low blow, but funny all the same :

Why Harper thinks that John Manley will persuade Canadians to support the Afghanistan extension, I don't know.
For anyone who doesn't remember Beaker in the Muppet Show, here's an example:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great line of the day

Dave at Galloping Beaver analyzes Harper's media phobia
The Conservative communications strategy can be reduced to a simple line. We are the message and we alone are the messenger.. . . When a government attempts to intentionally hide its internal workings from the public, exposure and transparency become the obligation of the media. . . . Any attempt to shut that down is a deliberate attempt to weaken the democracy itself.
Emphasis mine.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tough talk

Jason Cherniak is right -- the Tories didn't actually want an election at all.
We could not go into an election over that Throne Speech. Never mind the organizational issues in Quebec - there was no issue over which to bring down the government. I have sympathy with Liberals who want to get rid of Harper. I feel exactly the same way. However, politics is not about going into an election every chance you get. Politics is about proposing good policies and opposing bad policies. The Throne speech, quite simply, did not give us that opportunity.
In spite of all the tough talk before the throne speech, the Conservatives fuzzied and fudged the Speech language so that the Liberals would not have to vote against it.
Kyoto is now shown to be a case in point -- in spite of all the rhetoric, the Cons are NOT withdrawing from Kyoto -- a position on which Dion and the Liberals could not have abstained. In fact, whenever the election does finally come, the Liberals will be able to argue that it is the Conservatives own fault that they cannot meet the Kyoto targets.
And likewise, the crime bill -- the Cons are blustering and posturing, apparently hoping that if they talk loudly enough nobody will remember it was also the Conservatives' own fault these laws weren't passed last spring.
As for Dion's future, Harper has pushed him to the wall -- the question is, can he push back?
In an editorial titled "Tough Dion refuses Harper's double-dare", the Edmonton Journal says don't sell Dion short:
...perhaps they should be more wary about attempts to humiliate or rout Stephen Dion.
Say what you like about the man -- and we'll say Dion has shown a lot more interest in Edmonton than the southern Alberta prime minister in the last year and a half -- the former cabinet minister under both Martin and Chretien is no pushover.
When it comes to vitriolic firepower, even the likes of Environment Minister John Baird is no match for the hardcore separatists of Quebec. For years, they've tried to bring the architect and champion of the Clarity Act to his knees and failed . . . underestimated for decades, Stephane Dion could yet have the last laugh.
One thing is for certain. He's a tough nut to crack.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dogs playing poker

It's one week into the Saskatchewan election campaign, and the constant ante-upping is beginning to remind me of dogs playing poker.
Calvert must be the long-nosed collie, with Brad Wall on the far right (of course) and David Karwacki in the middle.

Fool me once

George Bush:"We don't torture."
Larry Craig: "I am not gay."
Bill Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman."
Well, when Clinton said that, I believed him. But fool me once, shame on you...

Lifeline or anchor?

It's all in how you see it.
Here's the Globe and Mail story about Stephane Dion's decision not to vote against the Throne Speech:
Battered federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion scrambled Wednesday to reassure fretful colleagues about the party's future in a watershed speech aimed at controlling damage from a string of recent setbacks.
But the BBC story sees the same news from quite a different angle -- their story is titled Liberals send PM lifeline:
Canada's opposition Liberal party has thrown a lifeline to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying it will not force early snap elections.

Don't worry, be happy

I guess women shouldn't worry about the anti-abortion right-wingers who are being appointed as judges by the Harper Conservatives -- like Lawrence O'Neil, who will be sworn in next week to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and David Brown, who was appointed last year to the Ontario Superior Court -- even though O'Neil said that a mother doesn't have the right to control her own body, and Brown was a lawyer for Focus on the Family and REAL Women of Canada:
Brown's defenders pointed out that, even in the unlikely case his personal values influenced his legal rulings, such viewpoints are flotsam in a sea of Liberal appointees.
So I guess that means its OK for the Harper Conservatives to pander to their base.
Silly me, and here I thought those judicial appointments actually meant something...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teh funny

Before Amazon takes it down, check out the list of "tags" from prospective readers for Jonah Goldberg's multi-titled book. Here are some of the funniest ones:

Great line of the day

In Nutcracker Fever, Digby writes about how Tucker Carlson is totally eeyuuhhh! about women who say they would vote for Hillary because she's a woman:
Carlson has well documented issues with Clinton, whom he says makes him "cross his legs" every time he hears her voice. Evidently his "instinctive" revulsion is a perfectly valid reaction, but women who are inspired by the fact that she is the first woman in history to be a serious candidate for president are thinking with their twats.
This has been another edition of What Digby Said!

Be still my heart...

Canadian Press finds the dramatic moment in an apparently otherwise-tedious Throne Speech:
When Jean read that the government would respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on terrorist security certificates, a keen observer might have observed a noticeable lifting of the eyebrows of Justice Louis LeBel, seated among his fellow ermine-robed high court judges in front of the dais.
One eyebrow-lifting moment -- how exciting!

So here's the plan...

I don't know which is worse -- the belief that the Bush Administration has an ineffective plan for dealing with the Middle East, or the frightening realization that they really are just making it up as they go along -- and they have been for years.

Problem solved!

It's the Helen Thomas solution:first step - declare victory; second step - leave

Monday, October 15, 2007


Well, its good to know that there is a line below which Conservative rank-and-file won't go.
The MLA who called Belinda Stronach a whore was not re-nominated in his provincial riding.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Vast right-wing conspiracy

Democrats and whistleblowers and people who don't do what the Bush Administration wants seem to end up slimed or jobless or in jail.
Like Don Siegelman and Usman Ali and Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez and Joe Nacchio and Richard Clarke, Teresa Chambers, Richard Foster, David Lappa, David Lewis, Douglas Parker, and Eric Shinseki and the wounded soldiers at Walter Reed.
Rachel Maddow added more on Countdown yesterday:
“Twelve year old Graeme Frost, meet Cindy Sheehan, meet 9/11 widows, meet Staff Sgt. Brian McGough, meet Michael J. Fox, meet the kids who were targeted by Mark Foley, meet Jack Murtha. I mean, Graeme Frost as a twelve year old now joins an esteemed list of Americans who have been personally attacked, personally slimed, called liars and cowards and frauds, and threatened for daring to publicly espouse a view that the right disagrees with. I mean, just when you think you’ve found the person who they can’t possibly slime, I don’t know, say a twelve year old kid just out of a coma, turns out yeah, the bar does actually go that low, it’s just astonishing.”
The message is chillingly clear, isn't it -- go along to get along, because if you get out of line you'll be hammered.
Yes, Virginia, there IS a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You realize of course this means war

There always reaches a point in a Bugs Bunny cartoon when Bugs, the heretofore aggrieved innocent, decides he has had enough. That's when he declares -- to Daffy, or Yosemite, or the bull, or the gangsters, or the tenor -- "You realize of course, this means war!"
I think the blogosphere has finally reached that point with the wingnuts -- the Greame Frost attacks are the last straw.
I haven't seen such outraged commentary since Shiavio -- here and here and here and here.
Wolcott sums it up perfectly:
Rush Limbaugh and his fellow talk-radio troll dolls didn't "pervert" conservatism--he didn't lay siege to some maiden fair and debauch her virtue. Rush Limbaugh didn't inject an "ideology of hate" into conservatism, he extracted the contemptuous, divisive animosity inherent in the Gingrich doctrine and sugared it up with comedy and his own personal saga for popular consumption. He, like Clarence Thomas, was just what the Republican overseers ordered. Rush Limbaugh is modern mainstream conservatism in all its bullying bluster, hypocrisy, jolly ignorance (global warming etc), slavish submission to military, corporate, and executive power, and slimeballing of political opponents. To believe otherwise is like putting your faith in those few remaining Republican moderates who always manage not to come through in the clutch, who put up a brief show of conscience or faint dissent before the inevitable capitulation. It's a little late to suddenly look around and realize what sleazebags you've got on your team, especially since those sleazebags were there before you arrived. The only difference between Limbaugh and the orc pit of the right blogosphere is one of degree, or perhaps I should say radius.
Emphasis mine. And be sure to check his "radius" link -- yes, it DOES mean what you think it means.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The "Rodney Dangerfield" Strike

I support unions, because it benefits both the employer and the employee to bargain collectively.
But to continue to be effective, unions have to deserve respect -- particularly, for public sector unions, from the public. This 3-month Vancouver strike has now passed irrational and is moving toward ridiculous.
I have been involved in several strikes over the years, and even a two-week strike is tough. I can't imagine what it would be like to walk a picket line for 12 weeks, with no end in sight and facing mortgage payments and car loans and school fees.
Certainly union members have to support each other, but they also have to get some results from their union leadership. Reading the stories about the recent vote, I begin to wonder if these union leaders are going to break their own unions because of their intransigence.
Now the inside workers have voted to go back, but the leadership of the outside workers urged members to vote against a settlement for some piss-poor reasons:
For the 1,800 outside workers the sticking points were overtime, grievance language and the city's ability to contract out their work.
"It's not money," said Dave Van Dyke, a member of CUPE 1004's bargaining committee.
"It's about mostly language. A couple of non-monetary items. Something like overtime shift language."
Sounds pretty blase, doesn't he? Apparently the workers have construction industry jobs now anyway, so they're not suffering:
Many outside employees feel little pressure to accept the Foley package because they have found employment in the construction industry
And they apparently don't care whether the people of Vancouver can use their parks or playgrounds, or get their streets cleaned. And they don't care that some of the inside workers will be kept off the job because of picketing at common job sites. The attitude seems to be, I've got mine, Jack, so screw you!
In a fever of solidarity, the library workers also voted to stay out -- but the library staff are the group of civic workers that could find themselves out in the cold for a long, long time. I worry that this could be one of those strikes where, sometime next spring, somebody says "Oh, are the library workers STILL out? I'd forgotten."
Basically, and with apologies to the librarians I know, libraries fall into the category of 'nice-to-have', not 'need-to-have' -- once the building permits are being issued again and the garbage is being picked up, the strike will be just a bad memory for most of the people in Vancouver even if the library workers are still picketing.
And maybe this strike won't even be remembered much. Vancouver Sun columnist Miro Cernetig sums up the attitude:
This civic strike has hardly proven the urban disaster that many anticipated. In fact, it has made a lot of people start to wonder about just what they are paying for in that ever-rising tax bill that arrives every spring from city hall . . . Yes, there have been inconveniences this summer. You can't check out a book from the library. You've got to learn a few new urban survival techniques to keep your backyard from stinking up . . . The flow of permits from city hall is at a crawl. . . . But the take home message so far from this summer's strike is that Vancouverites have proven surprisingly adept at making do with less city government. We haven't, despite the warnings, reached some tipping point that will shut the city down.
An ineffective strike ultimately results in making public sector unions weaker -- they don't get no respect.